Rozzi Speaks On Trust, Finding Her Musical Confidence and Debut Record ‘Bad Together’ The soulful pop artist comes into her own with debut album 'Bad Together.'
LOS ANGELES, CA — In 2012, Rozzi Crane was slated as pop’s next big thing. The singer was just a student at the University of Southern California and became the first artist to be signed to Adam Levine’s record label, 222 Records, at the age of 19. She launched two EPs, toured nationwide opening for Maroon 5, Gavin DeGraw, Parachute and Owl City, recorded a song for The Hunger Games soundtrack and was even a featured “artist of the month” by the Today Show’s Elvis Duran.
After writing hundreds of songs, going through two record labels and experiencing love, loss, disappointment and heartbreak, Rozzi has come into her own. Since parting ways with Levine and signing with Small Giant Records in 2016, the artist, known for her incredibly powerful and soulful voice, has found confidence as an artist — a journey that culminated in her debut record Bad Together, released this November.
With lead singles “Never Over You” and “Uphill Battle,” the record is an impressively strong collection of soulful pop and honest lyrics that detail the experience of a relationship from beginning to end. More than that, it marks the launch of Rozzi as an artist who has fully come into her own and found her voice, sound and willingness to get vulnerable.
Rozzi spoke with Blurred Culture contributor Rachel during her Bad Together album release show at The Peppermint Club, Nov. 15th, to talk about her record, the journey it took to get there, and what’s to come.
Congrats on the release of Bad Together! How does it feel?
It’s one of those things where I feel like it’s so exciting to me that I’ve almost blocked it out. It’s been so long that I’ve been dying to get this album out and I’m just so excited to have something out that represents me for people to listen to.
What would you say your whole album is about?
I feel like there’s two stories to it. There’s the very obvious story: it chronologically tells the story of a relationship from the beginning, from “Visions” through a breakup and that whole experience and process. The other story, the one that I really hear when I listen to it, is, me [and] a kind of coming-of-age story. I feel like I can hear myself coming into my own and really figuring out who I am and what I want to say and what I want to sound like, kind of finding my independence. I think a lot of female artists and probably women in general can relate to this. Being a young female artist in this industry, it’s very hard to be taken seriously and get your eyes and ideas really heard — and I feel like I can hear myself in this album. Getting confidence in my own taste, my own ears, my own choices.
How long has this album been a work in progress for you?
“Visions” is the oldest song on the album and was the first song I ever wrote for this album. That was almost three years ago.
“I thought about leaving so I’d know how it ends”
What’s the story behind “Visions” and how did that come about?
It was the first session that my new management put me on and, you know I had been dropped on my last label [222 Records] and thought I was gonna write something about that. But I was in the process of falling in love for the first time. I was having a full meltdown and panic attack about it. I remember on the drive [to the session], I was sending my best friend from high school texts saying, ‘I should break up with him now because I don’t know where he’s going!’ She was like, ‘Calm down. You’re a psycho.’
That’s why the song starts with the lyric, ‘I thought about leaving so I’d know how it ends,’ because that was what I kept saying to myself. I just had never felt that feeling before and I was really scared.
You were the first artist, years ago [in 2012] to be signed to Adam Levine’s record label [222 Records]. And you were only 19. You probably didn’t even know who you were at that point. What’s the biggest takeaway you had from that whole experience?
It’s so true. I really didn’t [know who I am] and it’s amazing that Adam and everyone involved there gave me this insane opportunity, before I, like you said, really knew who I was. I think it was based off potential, which is incredible because it helped me so much in my process, but at the same time, because I didn’t know, it was easy for other people’s visions to be projected onto me.
Even if I was very sure of myself, in those moments it’s really hard to be heard when you’re in that position. When you’re a teenage girl in a room with really successful, powerful men, it’s hard, and I think that whole experience, more than anything, was necessary in helping me get to that point where I knew who I was and what I wanted to sound like and to be in a position to make an album like this that is my point of view. It’s very collaborative. It’s me. My DNA is all over it.
“I get the sense that I’m not going to need to tell you to work harder or work more. I’m going to need to tell you to relax and live your life.”
You switched over to your new management at Small Giant. How was the creative freedom that you had working and collaborating with that team to make something that you want?
My manager Ben Singer, the main guy at Small Giant, is just gifted at bringing artists out of themselves. He’s unbelievable, just seeing you as you are and understanding you, and almost prescribing what you need to do to be your best, true self. It’s really an amazing gift that he has. I think he just understands that the most powerful stuff — arts in general — is honest and unique to you.
I remember I didn’t sign with him right away because I’d just been through this whole whirlwind experience [at 222 Records] and I wanted to take my time [and] what convinced me that he was the right person for me to work with was [when] he said to me, ‘I get the sense that I’m not going to need to tell you ever to work harder or work more. I’m going to need to tell you to relax and live your life. Experience things.’ You could see that I was just very ambitious.
Which song on your album would you say stands out to you the most?
It changes all the time, but “Joshua Tree” is ultimately probably my favorite song. I wrote it for me. I didn’t write it for any other reason. Sometimes you go in and you’re thinking, ‘I want to write a song that everyone’s gonna love and it’s gonna be a hit,’ and that’s great. But this song was just because I needed to express it, which is why I feel like it’s really representative of what I’m saying — making music just because it’s what I want to make.
All your songs are so candid and confessional and vulnerable. Do you feel being that vulnerable is the hardest or easiest part when it comes to writing?
It depends on who you’re in the room with. I wrote “Joshua Tree” with Wrabel and Eric Leva, who are just the coziest, safest people in the world. I met them as writers and now we’re really good friends. They just make it so easy for me to tell them everything about my life and made it a safe place for me to be honest. When I was first about to release “Never Over You” and “Uphill Battle” last year, I was so anxious. It’s easy to be vulnerable as long as you forget you’re gonna put songs out — haha!
Your music videos [for “Joshua Tree” and “Lose Us”] are so beautiful and artistic. How did those videos come about?
Nick Leopold has been directing all my videos and he is amazing and super creative. He also did those live videos of “Never Over You” and “Uphill Battle” that I put out a while ago and we really liked working with him. When it came time to do the “Lose Us” video with Scott [Hoying], we thought of him ’cause he’s just really creative and has this way of taking an idea. I’ll tell him what I want it to feel like or whatever idea I have and then he adds really important elements that actually make it interesting.
How was it working with Scott [Hoying] on “Lose Us”?
[Scott and I] have known each other for so long. We’re really good friends. We wrote that song in my living room almost two years ago just sitting at my kitchen table.
— and was that song in the thick of you going through your relationship? Was he like a friend and confidant?
We were actually both in fights with friends that we were really close with and we were venting to each other about our friends, and the song came out that way. I like that it kind of fits the story with the album, and that’s the case with a couple songs — where they’re not actually about my ex-boyfriend, but they are the same feelings that I felt… But the video with Scott was so fun. We were both tired and hungover because he had his Pentatonix show the night before and both had way too much fun. It was one of those days where you’re giddy ‘cause you’re so tired and we were just so delirious. We were laughing all day.
What do you think is one of the biggest things you’ve learned thus far, because it’s taken you quite a big amount of time to release your debut?
I’ve learned that I should trust myself. I think that’s a lifelong journey, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s experienced that but, I’ve learned that I know more than I think I do. I should trust my taste and my ears and my gut and just not try and guess what anybody else wants to hear or try and please people. To make what I want to hear. It’s kind of that simple.
I feel like your song “Two Minutes” kind of encapsulates that idea. Is that where that song came from?
That song’s interesting. I wrote it after the day Trump won the residency. My friend Katie [Mother Pearl], who’s opening, and I were just so shocked that so many women voted for him. I was very naively thinking we lived in this post-Beyonce world where we didn’t have to remind people they’re worth more than what they look like. So that came out and it’s a similar feeling — confidence in who you are [and] not letting other people’s requirements of you get in the way.
It’s weird that that’s the song that came about [though]. I thought we were gonna write some angry screamo metal song, haha.
What can we look forward to next? What are the next steps after this release?
The truth is I have so much more music. I have been writing so much and one album wasn’t really enough. We already have so much more that’s hopefully going to come out sooner than anybody would ever expect. So we have a lot more stuff coming. Stream the hell out of that album!
Rozzi wrote a personal message of thanks the morning of her album release. Read the message below:
Stream Bad Together online: http://smarturl.it/rozzi-badtogether